I like to search for the silver linings when bad things happen. If I look heard enough I can usually find something good out of something bad.
Get ghosted by the Star Wars super fan after dating for months? The upside is so much blogging material I don’t even know where to begin.
Alive during a never ending pandemic? Upside is I learn what the schools are really teaching and can educate the kid myself.
It’s only been a week, but so far I have not found the upside of a broken shoulder.
Last Monday – exactly one week ago – I slipped on the ice in front of big box sporting goods store. The sidewalk was slushy from the snow earlier in the morning and even though the sun was shining and making things slushy, the area behind one of their large stone pillars was shaded (by the pillar) and icy. I took one step and went down on my ass, except I didn’t just go down on my ass, I also hit my elbow.
As soon as I hit the ground a string of “fuck, FUCK, fuckity god dammit fuck, FUCK” came pouring out of my mouth. Immediately an older woman ( I say older but she probably was my age, she just dressed the part while I’m still dressing the way I did in the 90s) came to my assistance. I knew I had to stop saying “fuck” but I couldn’t. No other word seemed appropriate. “Ow” did not convey the magnitude of the pain I was feeling – even if I wasn’t certain where the pain was originating yet.
While on the ground swearing, a young police officer approached, tried to assess the situation – a rather easy assessment I should point out – and asked if I needed help getting up. He gently grabbed my upper right arm releasing a fresh string of fucks. Between the two of these people and a never ending string of increasingly interesting swear word combinations I was up, but didn’t want to be.
Standing with my arm, my right arm dag nabbit, just hanging by my side hurt like a motherf*cker.
One of the police officers asked if he could check out my arm to see if it was broken or dislocated. At this point I was leaning toward dislocated since the pain seemed the worst at the top of my arm. My elbow was hurt, but I could bend my arm there, as well as at my wrist. I said he could, but then realized I’d have to take off my water coat – and that was going to hurt.
I really wanted it to be dislocated because that seemed like a quicker fix. Pop it back into the socket, pop a few Tylenol and I’ll be on my way. I really thought I could just shake this off at this point.
The police officer very gently removed my coat and very tenderly felt my arm for any protrusions. Thankfully there were none. He asked me to bend my wrist – I could do that. He then asked me to bend my elbow – check. Then he asked me to raise my arm outwards – nope – and then a lot of fresh “fucks” came out of my mouth again.
It is now dawning on me that it might not be as easy as shaking it off or popping it back into place. I try to distract my tears by asking one of the police officers to ask someone in the store to put down some salt. it is also at this time when I notice my left leg and butt are cold and wet. I wonder if I wet my pants* and hope not because suddenly I feel really old and feeble – and obvious other reasons.
No one suggests anything is broken, but one of the officers asks if he should call the paramedics and I reluctantly agree.
I say reluctantly because as a Minnesotan of Scandinavian descent – we don’t want to make a big fuss and we don’t want others to fuss over us. We are descended from warriors, and we are a pragmatic people – we don’t do well with small talk or niceties, but we especially don’t want to be the reason authorities are called in. They have more important things to do for cripes sakes.
This is why when my brother lit the neighbor’s garage on fire my dad didn’t run back in the house and call the fire department right away. He grabbed a large watering can and filled (only after ascertaining that the hose wasn’t long enough) it and managed to douse the fire before it reached the ’71 Torino station wagon that he would end up buying from the neighbors for my brother and me to drive so we didn’t have to drive his much nicer and newer vehicle.
While we wait for the paramedics I again suggest someone go out and salt the area where I slipped. I ask the cop to ask someone inside to take care of the task. Even though we are in the vestibule of the big box sporting goods store no one from the store has bothered to come out and see what is going on. At the time I’m grateful not to cause a scene, but a week later I’m a little pissed off about it.
Also while waiting for the paramedics, one of the officers says I can save myself the cost of the ambulance ride if I can have a friend or family member take me to urgent care. He suggests I will be seen sooner at urgent than ER. I call my son and complain to the officer that he will not pick up on the first call. I will have to call several times before he realizes it might be a bit of an emergency.
The cop suggests that since I’m paying for his phone I should take it away. I laugh and even though I have mascara running down my face feel flattered that he thinks my son would be so young that I would be paying for his phone. My son is almost 29, is married and has owned his own home for years. He pays for his own phone.
So far I have had tears running down my face, but I have not gone full on ugly cry. Not until I talk to my kid.
I tell him what happened and apologize, but wonder if he could swing by and take me to urgent care, if he isn’t too busy, I really don’t want to be a problem.
He tells me not to be sorry, that he and his wife will be right over. He tells me it will be okay. He does not tell me not to cry because he knows better. He knows I will crack a joke so I can laugh/cry to try to make the other Minnesotans around me a little less uncomfortable.
Before I hang up the paramedics arrive making a huge show of things. They don’t have lights or siren going – thank God – but the do pull all their gear out of the truck – lots and lots of gear.
Gear they didn’t need sine they did the same thing the police officer did – gently touch my arm and neck and ask what I can move. No one suggested what the reason was I could not lift my arm, though now it seems obvious they didn’t want to freak me out and just weren’t telling me what they suspected.
I’ve never broken a bone before. I smacked my nose on my dad’s new car door once while visiting my grandmother at the nursing home enough that I heard it crack and caused a gusher, but I’ve never broken an arm or a leg before.
I refuse a ride to the ER where I’ll have to sit in pain for at least 4 hours among sick people, thank everyone for their help while simultaneously apologizing for the inconvenience I caused everyone and head to urgent care with my son.
About halfway to urgent care the adrenaline starts to wear off and I am in more pain than I can remember – I’ve had one natural without drugs deliveries and two c-sections, I’ve also had a pilonidal cyst – I know pain. When the triage nurse asks me to rate my pain I want to tell her 11, but settle on 9. In my brain I’m contemplating both This Is Spinal Tap and The Fault in our Stars. This makes me laugh and that makes me cry.
The nurse says I look pale and asks if I’m going to faint, I tell her I’m not pale, just Scandinavian. She argues with me saying it’s more than that. I don’t argue, I just want to go home – with some drugs.
I can’t do either until I get some X-rays taken. These hurt, I swear, but the fight in me has waned. I’m fantasizing about my bed and trying not to think what a hassle life is going to be for a while.
And it is a huge hassle.
I got my drugs – 10 tablets. They barely cut through the pain. It’s taken me 5 hours to type this 1500 word post. I’m typing with my left hand which is slow and tedious. Correcting mistakes is time consuming and for some reason I’m hitting something that sends the cursor a line or two back and I’m typing within a finished sentence.
I know there is an upside of a broken shoulder, there has to be.
*I did not wet my pants.
** That’s not my Xray, I forgot to ask for one.